4 key trends shaping the world of leadership development

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How can you best develop your leaders? Give these 4 trends a go.
How can you best develop your leaders? Give these 4 trends a go.

Leadership development: A program or activity that makes people become better leaders.

Leadership development is a simple enough concept but the implications of this training are huge. Your leaders are the ones who will make or break the experience for your organisation's employees.

According to a Gallup study, the actions of a poor manager could negate all other positive impressions of your company for your employees. In fact, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.

Leaders will define your business and that's exactly why so many organisations are investing serious capital in leadership development programs. Research shows that globally companies have spent a combined US$50 billion on training programs for their leadership personnel.

What are the key trends in leadership development?

Leadership is a broad term. When you choose to develop your leaders, there are so many different areas of focus to consider. What have companies been focusing on recently?

1. Training for empathy

There's a reason you hear the term 'soft skills' so frequently in conversation. Attributes such as empathy, positivity and adaptability are quickly becoming the most sought-after leadership qualities in any given market.

Empathy in particular has taken a front seat in the realm of top leadership skills. The ability to understand, relate to and be sensitive to employees, colleagues and business partners has a direct impact on staff retention and strength of business partnerships. As a result, more companies are implementing training initiatives centered around leading with a more compassionate touch.

2. Coupling strategy and development

Learning and development is great but it's nothing without a broader leadership strategy in place. In the modern workplace, organisations are beginning to better understand that training can not exist in isolation, it needs to be grounded in a wider plan.

A leadership strategy will ultimately define the company's leadership requirements – from skills required to number of leaders needed. Once this strategy is agreed upon businesses can then build more meaningful leadership development programs.

3. Refreshing outdated ideas of core competencies

A major trend in leadership development involves refreshing traditional leadership competencies to reflect the needs of modern workplaces. While conventional competencies are still valid, there has been a major shift in the past few years. Something that can be accredited to the competitive business landscape that we operate in. According to research by Bersin by Deloitte, there are five critical factors dictating the playing field:

  • The need for innovative and creative approaches to doing business and managing talent.
  • The need for agile and flexible organisations and leaders.
  • Global competition.
  • People management "know how.'
  • Diverse employee needs.

4. Enabling empowerment

Leadership is less and less about delivering orders and more about empowering direct reports to do what they need to get their jobs done. Today, there is a greater emphasis on the people side of leadership. This often includes a focus on bringing more positive psychology to the management table. By focusing on empowering employees leaders can create an environment where people make better decisions and are more effective in what they do.

What role does Whole Brain® Thinking play in this?

No matter what kind of organisation you're in, being successful in business requires Whole Brain® Thinking. That same concept applies to leadership.

It doesn't matter what your personal leadership style is, you need to understand both how you prefer to think and where your blind spots are so that you can fully leverage your mental strengths and stretch outside them when necessary.

Here's the even better news: applying Whole Brain® Thinking doesn't require you to be someone you're not. After all, you have access to your whole brain, not just the thinking styles you prefer the most. All modes of thinking are already there and available to you. Instead, this is about becoming highly skilled as a thinker, able to situationally access the different thinking required to handle a given challenge.

This is the essence of leadership agility, particularly in today's knowledge intensive world where challenges are more complex and we need to get the full advantage of our own diversity of thought as well as the thinking diversity around us.

So rather than concentrating on the most effective leadership styles, ground your leadership training and development efforts in practical ways to unleash thinking capability. Once you open leaders up to their full thinking potential and give them experience in accessing and applying their own inherent thinking diversity, all of the modes of thinking will become more available to them on a daily basis.

The idea isn't to change the unchangeable but to help leaders take advantage of the flexibility we all have to become situationally more effective across the range of key leadership issues.

How can Herrmann help?

When you approach leadership and it's relevant development programs with a Whole Brain® lens, you are better equipped to build a holistic team of leaders and managers. Ultimately, this means a stronger organisation, a happier staff and long-term success.

Keen to get started on your leadership development path? We're excited to help – reach out to us today!